Deciding on a right to die

On October 5, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in Gonzales v. Oregon, involving the conflict with Oregon's Death with Dignity Act and the U.S. attorney general's interpretation of the federal Controlled Substances Act of 1970 (CSA), forbidding the dispensing of lethal dose of drugs to terminally ill patients. With a history that includes two Oregon voter approved referendums and several reversals of federal interpretations of "legitimate medical purpose" under CSA, Gonzales v. Oregon arises out of the current controversies surrounding end-of-life decision-making.

The PEW Forum on Religion & Public Life publishes a legal backgrounder (September 2005) and a transcript of a forum they held in May, 2005, discussing the social implications of the right to die:

Supreme Court Considers Challenge to Oregon's Death with Dignity Act: Gonzales v. Oregon and the Right to Die (a legal backgrounder)
(available in PDF, 208KB, from PEW)

Right to Die? Legal, Ethical and Public Policy Implications (event transcript )
(available in HTML from PEW)

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